In Middle East conflict, other crises, conservative media find signs of Biblical prophecy of Armageddon

››› ››› ROB DIETZ & MAX BLUMENTHAL

In recent days, some members of the conservative media have seen signs of the Apocalypse in the escalated conflicts in the Middle East and Asia. Pat Robertson has considered the possibility but has seemed to reject it, while columnist Hal Lindsey has simply asserted: "Now Armageddon looms large before us." But as recent reports on CNN and in USA Today attest, conservatives are not the only media figures to raise the question of whether current events are a sign of the "End Times."

In recent days, some members of the conservative media have seen signs of the Apocalypse in the escalated conflicts in the Middle East and Asia. While some, like Christian Broadcasting Network's The 700 Club host Pat Robertson, consider the possibility and seem to reject it; others see early signs; still others, including WorldNetDaily.com columnist and author Hal Lindsey, simply assert: "Now Armageddon looms large before us."

  • As Media Matters for America has noted, on the July 12 edition of his CNN Headline News show, host Glenn Beck identified the current conflicts in the Middle East and India as evidence that "it is the end of days" and later described the conflicts as "World War III and the impending apocalypse." Beck also stated that "whether you like it or not, this is a religious war." As Media Matters also noted, Beck and former CIA officer Robert Baer had a similar discussion on the July 13 edition of CNN Headline News' Glenn Beck, during which Baer said: "We can see this spreading into other countries. We are much closer to Armageddon." On the July 18 edition of the program, Beck referred to the recent heat wave as "the apocalypse" and after showing a photo of a cat born with two faces, Beck said it was "further evidence, oh, yes, that the end of days is approaching quickly." He then asked: "How far away from the plague of locusts are we?" As Media Matters further noted, on the July 24 edition of the program, while discussing Iran, Beck said: "I truly believe these mullahs are far worse than Hitler. ... I believe these guys are biblically evil." He concluded: "We have a series starting tomorrow on the coming of the messiah."
  • In a July 22 commentary posted on WorldNetDaily.com titled "On the threshold of Armageddon?" Rev. Jerry Falwell, founder and chairman of the Moral Majority Coalition, wrote: "It is apparent, in light of the rebirth of the state of Israel, that the present-day events in the Holy Land may very well serve as a prelude or forerunner to the future Battle of Armageddon and the glorious return of Jesus Christ."
  • On the July 21 edition of Salem Radio Network's Janet Parshall's America, host Janet Parshall described the conflict in the Middle East as "a Sunday school lesson playing out before us."
  • On the July 19 edition of Jay Sekulow Live!, Joel C. Rosenberg, author of the book, The Ezekiel Option (Tyndale House Publishers, July 2005), said The Ezekiel Option is "based on a 2,500-year-old Bible prophecy -- Ezekiel chapters 38 and 39 -- in which Russia teams up with Iran, Lebanon, Syria and a number of other Muslim countries to destroy Israel in what Ezekiel calls 'the last days.' " Rosenberg added: "It's too soon to say, honestly, that Ezekiel 38 and 39 are coming true, but I think it's drawing a lot of interest in what the Bible has to say about future events in that part of the world given the parallels to those prophecies." In a column posted on July 17 on the leftbehind.com website, Rosenberg purported to break down the prophecy from Ezekiel by listing "what to ... watch[] for." For his final bullet point, he wrote: "Even the G8 issued a statement defending Israel's right to exist. But the Scriptures are clear, Israel will be totally alone when Russia and Iran attack."
  • On the July 18 edition of The 700 Club, Robertson spent five and a half minutes explaining the escalated conflict between Israel and Hezbollah. At one point, he asked: "Is this the end of it all? No. Is this what precedes the coming of the Lord? I don't think so. But it is clearly prophesied by Ezekiel if you believe that." After reading from the biblical Book of Ezekiel and pointing to a map of the Middle East, Robertson concluded his segment by saying that "when it's all finished, God says I'm going to destroy them all and I will bring glory to myself."
  • On the July 18 broadcast of Point of View, host Kerby Anderson addressed a caller, who asked if the so-called Ezekiel 38 and 39 prophecy "will be any kind of relevance on what you're talking about and how Israel has been leaving their back door open a lot for several different attacks to happen." Anderson replied: "I don't claim to be a prophecy expert" but added that "the better answer to that ... is that this may not be the final scenes, but it may be rearranging some of the chairs, some of the scenery, if you will, on the final stage."
  • On the July 12 edition of his program, broadcast on Denver radio station KOA, "Gunny" Bob Newman asked: "Can mankind survive itself in World War III? ... [I]s this the start of the big A -- Armageddon?" Later in the program, he asked: "[C]ould this be the beginning of Armageddon, at least a modern-day Armageddon?"
  • On the July 4 edition of Trinity Broadcasting Network's Jack Van Impe Presents, co-host Jack Van Impe said, "Yes, Armageddon is coming," adding that "[b]illions are going to be there to meet Christ after the conflict is ended." On the June 18 edition of the program, co-host Rexella Van Impe asked Jack Van Impe whether he could "bring some comfort" to a viewer's heart about the Middle East. Jack Van Impe replied that "there is war in the Middle East" but that "Armageddon is not the end of the world. It is never going to end" because "Christ comes to put an end to the fighting that is going on in the Middle East and globally" and "that is what the Bible said will come just before Christ returns."
  • In the wake of North Korea's missile test on July 4, Hal Lindsey wrote, in a July 7 commentary posted on WorldNetDaily.com, that "the stakes today are far more dangerous than ever before. Now Armageddon looms large before us."

Conservatives are not the only media figures to raise the question of whether current events are a sign of the "End Times."

  • On the July 24 edition of CNN's Paula Zahn Now, host Paula Zahn asked: "Now, is the crisis in the Middle East predicted by the Bible? Next in our top story coverage, what does the Book of Revelation tell us about what's happening right now in the Middle East? Are we really approaching the end of the world, as some believe?" During the program, an onscreen text read: "End of the world?" The program then featured a report by CNN faith and values correspondent Delia Gallagher and included a "panel of religious experts" to debate whether "the latest explosive events in the Middle East fulfill a clear biblical prophecy; that Armageddon -- the end of the world -- is on the way." The program spent more than nine minutes discussing the issue. This instance was first highlighted by Americablog. Additionally, on the July 25 edition of CNN's CNN Live Today, Gallagher's report about Armageddon was replayed, accompanied by onscreen text that read: "Apocalypse Now?"
  • In a July 20 column in USA Today titled "In the headlines, glimpses of the apocalypse," Gannett News Service political writer Chuck Raasch wrote: "You can't look at the headlines these days ... and not conjure up apocalyptic visions."

From the July 12 edition of CNN Headline News' Glenn Beck:

BECK: Hey, everybody. Hurry up; we've got World War III to fight. Yes, it is the end of days. Isn't it?

[...]

BECK: Here's what I do know about World War III and the impending apocalypse. One, we can't coexist with people who want to blow up trains and subways and bring down buildings. If somebody has a death wish, not really the best negotiating partner.

I also know that whether you like it or not, this is a religious war. Radical Muslims want to wipe everybody else off the face of the earth.

From the July 13 edition of Glenn Beck:

BECK: Bob, you were on the show yesterday on television, you were on the radio show today. We talked about that World War III is here, and 1938, that's about where we are, 1938. With the events of the day are we any closer to the next world war?

BAER: Oh, we've moved -- we've moved forward in the last 12 hours. Hezbollah has dropped some rockets on Haifa, a major Israeli city. This is a major escalation. We can see this spreading into other countries. We are much closer to Armageddon.

From the July 18 edition of Glenn Beck:

BECK: Oh, I don't know what it's like at your house, but it feels like the apocalypse is coming here in New York in more ways than one.

As the fighting continues in the Middle East, many people in the international community today are calling for either negotiations and/or a U.N. peacekeeping force to halt the conflict. And that's just -- I can't understand that on so many levels.

[...]

BECK: Gemini was born with two mouths, two tongues, two noses, four eyes. Some say this is the work of the devil. I'm not going to argue, quite frankly. In fact, I'm going on record now and saying, "I'm sorry, PETA: The cat must be stopped."

This evil creature, without doubt, further evidence, oh, yes, that the end of days is approaching quickly. I say, what, 20 minutes from now? Could be. You know, in this week, we've got a mess in the Middle East; we've had wildfires burning out of control; of course, we got the heat waves, 113 degrees today in Death Valley; mudslides in California, oh, they're coming.

How far away from the plague of locusts are we? Geez. We used to be able to count on news footage of cute little kittens.

From the July 24 edition of Glenn Beck:

BECK: I just want to tell you that I truly believe these mullahs are far worse than Hitler. I mean, Hitler was crazy evil. I believe these guys are biblically evil. And don't miss tomorrow's program. We have a series starting tomorrow on the coming of the messiah. We'll do that tomorrow.

From the July 18 edition of CBN's The 700 Club:

ROBERTSON: Thanks, John. Ladies and gentlemen, you might like to know what the Bible has to say about Israel in the last days. Is this the beginning of Ezekiel 38? We don't know but its getting close. Here's what the book of Ezekiel tells us in the 38th chapter.

[...]

Well, that's the prophecy of Ezekiel, that in the latter days, a coalition is going to come against Israel. And some of us have been waiting. Is this the end of it all? No. Is this what precedes the coming of the Lord? I don't think so. But it's clearly prophesied by Ezekiel if you believe that.

Now let's look at the map and to see what he's talking about. Here is Israel in the middle. It's called the navel of the earth. This is one described as Put which we identify as Libya. The other is Cush, and Cush is not Ethiopia, Cush is Sudan. And this is Sudan, which is of course an Islamic state. Libya is an Islamic state. And beyond that, what are we talking about? Gomer is somehow in the Caucasian area in here. These are Muslim people. Beth-togarmah may be Turkey. We're not quite sure exactly where all these people are. But Gog and Magog, Meschech is up in what is now the Russian federation. Rosh means head but it also is apparently Russia. So Russia's going to be involved with Persia which is down here. This is where Iran is. And so you can see the difference if Iran can come across it would have to cross Iraq, but it's trying its best to kind of overrun Iraq. But anyhow, here's Syria on the border with Iraq. Here's Iran right up on the close part. Syria, of course, borders Israel here. And Turkey borders there.

Now, you've got Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan. All these stans are Islamic republics. They are friendly to us but nevertheless that's what it is. Where is Tubal? Up here someplace in Magog. You can read in Genesis where they are. But the idea was that in the latter days when Israel is gathered back from the nations, the people are living at peace in their land, there is going to be this armada of essentially these Muslim nations joined with Russia to invade Israel, it says, in the latter days. Now are we seeing a prelude to that? We're not sure. But certainly Iran is making noises; they want to do it. The Sudan would undoubtedly kick in because they are fanatical Muslim in their leadership. Moammar Gadhafi has been relatively quiet but conceivably Libya could come on board.

This doesn't include Egypt, doesn't include Jordan, doesn't include Saudi Arabia or Yemen or these nations and, lo and behold, these particular nations are not joining in the current fighting against Israel. As a matter of fact, they are condemning Hezbollah. They don't want to have any part of it. And they are hoping that Israel will take them down a notch. They're hoping that the Iranians and the Syrians will come down a notch from where they are now because they're making trouble and they don't want it. But nevertheless, that's the situation described by the prophet Ezekiel. You ought to read your Bibles; Ezekiel 38. Can this be a prelude to that? I don't know, but it could be. We are beginning to see the line up of Iran, Russia, Sudan, Libya, and the Caucasian Muslim republics. Maybe Chechnya, some of those would play a role in this, we don't know. But when it's all finished, God says I'm going to destroy them all and I will bring glory to myself.

From the July 12 broadcast of The Gunny Bob Show:

NEWMAN: The truth be told, I don't say "uh-oh" very often when I hear a piece of news. When I got up this morning, about 0600, or so, turned on the TV and was greeted with the news that Israel had invaded Lebanon, and the first so-called words out of my mouth were "uh-oh." A world gone mad. Can mankind survive itself in World War III? I mean, is this the start of the big A -- Armageddon?

[...]

NEWMAN: If you just tuned into the show, I want to know if you think this, in the Middle East, could this be the beginning of Armageddon, at least a modern-day Armageddon?

[...]

NEWMAN: A world gone mad. Can mankind survive itself in World War III? And that's what we are in; but it's just not the World War III we expected. We kind of thought we'd be throwing missiles back and forth with the Russians, the Soviets. Well, it didn't come out that way, it came out to be different. And when you talk about Armageddon, the possibility of Armageddon, meaning wars all over the place and an awful lot of people dying that make World War II look like a joke, you've got to start adding up all the other factors.

From the July 4 broadcast of Jack Van Impe Presents:

JACK VAN IMPE: There's going to be a horrible conflict over Israel and over the Middle East. What they're saying now is, the last Bible prophecy that's going to be fulfilled, Psalm 83:4. Let us cast Israel off from being a nation that their name be no more in remembrance. And that's what starts Armageddon. As they divide the land of Israel, Joel 3, verse 2. Yes, Armageddon is coming, Revelations 16:16. But I repeat, it's not going to be the end of the world. Billions are going to be standing there to meet Christ after the conflict is ended and then they'll beat their swords and their plowshares and their spears and their pruning hooks, Isiah 2, verse 4.

From the July 18 broadcast of Jack Van Impe Presents:

REXELLA VAN IMPE: Yesterday a lady said to me, "Oh, Rexella, I love your program, I'm anxious to hear what your husband's going to have to say about the Middle East, and can he bring some comfort to my heart?" And I know you can, Jack.

JACK VAN IMPE: Oh, Rexella, there is war now in the Middle East and we'll have more to say about that a little later in the program. But do you know that when the lord Jesus Christ returns to earth to set up his kingdom; when he comes as the king of kings and lord of lords, Revelations 19:16, to rule and reign for one thousand years, Revelation 20, verse 4, that his feet hit the Mount of Olives and it splits from east to west, Zachariah 14, verse 4. But you know why he comes? Armageddon is not the end of the world. It's never going to end. We made a video last week that's going to be released this fall. And we got hundreds of verses proving that the world will never end. For Isaiah 45:17 and Ephesians 3:21 both say it's a world without end amen, amen. So, when he comes, Armageddon's not the end of the world, Revelations 16:16. But Christ comes to put an end to the fighting that is going on in the Middle East and globally and, of course, that's Revelations Chapter 11, verse 18.

[...]

JACK VAN IMPE: The hour has arrived. Jesus said there'd be wars and rumors of wars -- Matthew 24, verses 6 and 7, Mark chapters 13, verses 7 and 8. But listen to him in Luke 21, verse 9. He says when you hear of wars and commotions, wars and terrorism, wars and revolutionaries, be not frightened. These things must first come. And I'll come back to that in a moment. But he's talking about two things there: wars and terrorism. I had articles today but we're going to have to cut them off because we don't have time concerning the bombing that just took place in India with 200 dead. And in Somalia, in London a year ago, and then in Sweden, in Spain, and now they are talking about it happening in Canada and in New York -- the tunnels. Why? Because that is what the Bible says will come just before Christ returns. Terrorism. Genesis 6:11, Matthew 24:37, 2nd Peter 2:5, 2nd Peter 3:6.

But let's get back to the war issue right now. What were these wars that Jesus talked about when he said there will be wars and rumors of wars? Well, the thing that's going on right now in Israel could become a major thing or it could just become a minor skirmish for the time being and have it settled. Just a week ago, Israel said 'we will divide Jerusalem and Israel.' Now that's when the real conflagration begins because Armageddon, Revelations 16:16, occurs when they split the nation, Joel 3 verse 2. So watch for that. But as these things unfold, if it were now or later, we see that this leader comes out of the European Union, Daniel 9:26, and makes a seven-year peace contract, verse 27. But after 42 months, it is broken, as a nation called Russia marches against Israel along with the Arab federation. They're together. That's Ezekiel chapters 38 and 39, chapter 3 verses 1 and 2, and that mentions Gog, Magog, Meschech, Tubal, Rosh -- all cities now identifiable in Russia.

From the July 19 edition of Jay Sekulow Live!:

ROSENBERG: Interestingly enough, Jay, as you know, The Ezekiel Option is based on a 2,500 year-old Bible prophecy, Ezekiel chapters 38 and 39, in which Russia teams up with Iran, Lebanon, Syria and a number of other Muslim countries to destroy Israel in what Ezekiel calls the last days. Now when I wrote the novel, people thought, "All right it's an interesting scenario, but Bible prophecy, you've got to be kidding me, that's never going to happen." What's interesting now, is we're watching is slowly, slowly, this exact coalition begin to form. And I have to say, I was very concerned on Monday when Russia talked about sending ground troops into the region, ostensibly as part of a peace-keeping force. But as you know, it's been bedrock U.S. foreign policy principle to keep Russian troops out of the Middle East for the last 60 years. And this would be a massively destabilizing event to watch actual Russian ground troops enter Lebanon. It's too soon to say, honestly, that Ezekiel 38 and 39 are coming true, but I think it's drawing a lot of interest in what the Bible has to say about future events in that part of the world given the parallels to those prophecies.

From the July 18 edition of Point of View:

CALLER: OK, I just wanted to discuss that according to the word of God -- I do a lot of research in Bible prophecy and things of the sort -- it discusses something on the order of that the holy city of Jerusalem will be trodden under the foot of -- I think it's a country from the North -- for 40 and two months. I just wondered: Do you believe that there will be any kind of a relevance on what you're talking about, about how Israel has been leaving their back door open a lot for several different attacks to happen?

ANDERSON: You know, I don't claim to be a prophecy expert, although we're going to have some on the program here pretty soon to begin to speak to that issue. But often times when they're talking about the north, they're usually talking about the kings of the north. Most people have identified that as what used to be the former Soviet Union, now Russia and that region of the world. But of course you also notice that Lebanon is north as well. I think the better answer to that -- and the quicker answer since we're coming up to the break here and we're going to have speaker of the house Newt Gingrich with us in just a minute -- is that this may not be the final scenes, but it may be rearranging some of the chairs, some of the scenery, if you will, on the final stage. And that may be a better way to say that.

From the July 24 edition of CNN's Paula Zahn Now:

ZAHN: Now, is the crisis in the Middle East predicted by the Bible? Next in our top story coverage: What does the Book of Revelation tell us about what's happening right now in the Middle East? Are we really approaching the end of the world, as some believe?

From the July 21 broadcast of Salem Radio Network's Janet Parshall's America:

PARSHALL: That's a challenge to us as people of the word; understanding that this is really a Sunday school lesson being played out in front of us. What is our position on the nation of Israel?

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